Stepped outside, unmasked, and inhaled the scent of lilacs, fresh cut grass and mulched earth this morning. I love this time of year, the season when earth sends surprises, hidden but not lost in long, dark winters. During these days of leafing, blossoming, and singing birds, it’s like heaven and nature present a sacred symphony. Thank God for season tickets.
And I thank God for schools that still promote music and the arts. Ipswich public schools, where my two granddaughters attend is treating family and friends to its string festival this week. Monday night I attended Kate’s elementary school concert with my daughter-in-love, while Chad filmed the event and those to follow.
Usually we’re packed like sardines, but this year they’ve spread the concerts out, limited each family to two tickets and assigned seats to follow public health guidelines. Loved seeing the stage filled with young musicians. Kate played her cello and Maggie will play her viola tomorrow night with the middle school orchestra. Music brings us together and often heals hurts we don’t even know we have. Which reminds me of one of my favorite memories during the pandemic, a masked singer, seated a few feet to my left.
Some Sundays, I traded the on-line version, to bundle up and attend live church outside, masked and appropriately distanced. I love music: sung, played, strummed, tooted, or hummed. So, while understood, it startled me the first time I read in the church bulletin, “Please do not sing.” Though everyone was masked and muzzled by protocols, one old man(probably younger than I) couldn’t help himself. He sang behind his mask. As Harry Belafonte once said, “You can cage the singer but not the song.”
Speaking of songs, this morning, Dean Robert read Psalm 103. As I opened my Bible to follow along, I read in the margin,”Jud’s last day of the 6th cycle of chemotherapy at MGH, 11/1/2011.(also our daughter’s birthday!) There’d be more trials to endure, but on this day we sang in our hearts that psalm and hung on to hope and each other.
The Psalm begins,”Praise the Lord, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me.”(vs 1-2, NLT) Sometimes it’s the best we can muster, to tell ourselves, to trust God and remember the good, not just God’s goodness, but the good in nature, in medicine, in others, in ourselves.
As I write, memory draws me back to Mass General and the fear and uncertainty of that first day of Jud’s treatments. While nurses tended Jud, a young Haitian nursing assistant hauled over a large chair and said,”Sit, Mama!” So I sat. But she didn’t leave, she stood behind me and softly hummed, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I turned to her and said, “I know that song.” She said, “I thought you might.” Then she patted my arm and left me to finish the song and “tell myself to trust God and never forget the good things.”
Jon Meacham wrote in Songs of America: “A small thing, but in a dissonant world, every moment of harmony counts–and if we share music, we might just shout in anger a little less and sing in unity more. Or so we can hope.”
So lets hope, anyhow, and sing another verse, somehow. Can’t hurt but could help to heal hurts we didn’t know we had.
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